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Old 02-02-2011, 09:12 AM   #50
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Gears Of War 2 - Xbox 360

The original Gears of War was one of the first real Xbox 360 titles to make you appreciate the power of the system. Stunning visuals, a carefully considered coop system and of course the chainsaw!

Gears Of War 2 picks up right where the first one left off and it is everything you have come to expect from a sequel! It's bigger, with more enemies on screen at one time and more epic battle sequences, the visuals have been enhanced and not only do you finally get to fight a brumark (ok I know the PC version of the original contained extra levels that allowed this but now you can even ride and control one). Control wise the system is the same with one of the best cover systems that ha been copied so often in so many games such as Uncharted, Splinter Cell and even GTA. There are some new play mechanics such as using downed enemies as meat shields and you can now have chain duels but these are more minor additions than major overhauls. However taking someone’s head clean off with the sniper or taking out someone at close range with a shotgun still remains incredibly fun and satisfying. The only weapon addition worth mentioning is the mortar which has the same impact as mortars in other games but it is incredibly easy to calculate and really can provide devastating consequences. The visuals are certainly improved with massive environments with huge draw distances and even more detail. The story this time round gets you a lot more involved and the voice acting won't win any Oscars but is competent, you really start to feel for both Marcus and Dom as you play through this game. In the first game they were just jumped up crazy steroid junkies and whilst nothing has changed you start to realise why they have such a harsh exterior in Gears 2 as well as realise they are human and sensitive after all. Something I hope continues to develop in the 3rd instalment.

The single player works just like the first game... It’s good but it won't set the world on fire, this game really comes into it's own when you play the co-op game and I recommend that everyone plays this game co-operatively at least once. There are many set pieces in the game which require good communication. From having to carry a bomb together only equipped with a pistol each whilst being bombarded by wrenches to having to split up while one clears the path for another or the classic car and gunner scenario. It’s all here and playing the game on insane difficulty will require 2 skilled players and good communication. The only dissappointing aspect of the game is the lack of variation with environments. They look very similar to the first game. With the exception of the absurd location in a giant worms intestines it all looks the same as the first game. I don't expect them to have to dash through a sweet factory but a jungle style mission or perhaps some more covert aspects to the mission structure would help the game no end. Whilst they are beautiful the abandoned lab, underground cave and overrun hospital are predictable and won't suprise you.

The game also features the much talked about Horde mode. Which to be honest is a little hit and miss. You battle wave upon wave of enemies and it all gets a bit boring with the most successful way to play this mode is simply to set up a stall near some ammo and take people out as they come! With any less than 4 people this mode is crazy difficult on even casual difficulty to complete all 50 waves but is a nice addition and gives the game a little more replay value. Then there is the multiplayer mode, for some reason this didn't grab my attention the way the first game did. The first game seemed more focused and intense. The second games environments are more open and I often felt a bit overwhelmed when I jumped into matches.

Still for me GOW2 is all about it's stunning coop mode and I have to say in my opinion it's the best coop experience on any console since Mickey’s World of Illusion on the Mega Drive. The campaign will last you approximately 13 hours and if you love it as much as I did you will want to play it again on insane difficulty and find the hidden items. If you own a 360 and have not at least tried GOW2 then you are sorely missing out as the game and the series is one of the best exclusives on the 360. In fact I would go as far as to say it is the best 360 exclusive, and yes that includes Halo

Pros - Impressive visuals. One of the best coop games out. Chainsaw is still awesome.
Cons - Horde mode should be called defend mode. Multiplayer not as focused as first game.

Overall - 92%
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Xbox 360: (GrantX360) Red Dead Redemption, Orange Box, NBA 2K11
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